RHS Opens Gardens for Free to Celebrate 210th Birthday

Friday 7 March 2014

Enjoy a free day out on 7th March at any RHS Garden

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) will be celebrating the 210th anniversary of its founding by throwing open the doors of its four gardens on the 7th of March 2014 and inviting in the public for free. Anyone is welcome to come along and get a taste of RHS Gardens Wisley in Surrey, Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex and Rosemoor in North Devon. Join in and try out some of the benefits of being a member by going to http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Free-Day-Friday and filling out a voucher.

The RHS may be a world leading horticultural institution today but its beginnings were altogether more humble, starting on the 7th March in 1804 when seven men came together at Hatchards Bookshop in Piccadilly for its first meeting. 210 years later the society they formed, devoted to the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture in all its branches, is celebrating its highest ever membership of over 410,000.
Did you know that without the RHS the UK might never have had tea, the study of genetics, the weather forecast, rhododendrons and much more? Here are a few facts that might surprise you about the RHS:

  • RHS Gardens Wisley, Hyde Hall, Harlow Carr and Rosemoor are visited by more than 1.6 million people a year.
  • Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to RHS flower shows and millions more watch on TV at home.
  • Over two thirds of England’s schools take part in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest volunteering project.
  • The RHS Advisory Service answers between 70,000 and 80,000 member’s questions annually.
  • The RHS Lindley Library holds the world’s finest collections of botanical art and horticultural literature dating back to 1514. It is free for all to browse.
  • RHS Science pioneers vital research into plant disease, pests and climate change.
  • On the 23rd June 1827 the London Horticultural Society held its first flower show at its gardens in Chiswick. Over 2,800 tickets were sold which led to “a very unpolite and ungallant scramble for the pines fruits (pineapples), melons, grapes etc.”
  • On July 30th in 1906 at an RHS conference on hybridisation, committee member William Bateson suggested using the term “genetics” to describe the study of heredity.
  • RHS plant hunter Robert Fortune was the first man to bring tea seeds and cultivation tips from China to India and helped establish the first tea plantations there.
  • The RHS has been making scientifically accurate weather observations for over 180 years. RHS committee member James Glaisher, who is notable for producing the very first newspaper weather reports, believed them to form “one of the most complete records of the kind in existence.”
  • During World War One, the RHS supported a horticultural society set up by British prisoners in a civilian internment camp near Berlin. The seeds and advice the RHS sent helped the internees feed their fellow prisoners throughout the war.
  • The RHS is currently committed to a major programme of innovation and modernisation and is investing £27 million in projects which will enable it to involve, educate and inspire millions more gardeners throughout the country in the future.



Notes to editors

For more information and images, please contact Stephanie Shepherd in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3042 or stephanieshepherd@rhs.org.uk
Photographs are available to download at www.rhs.photoshelter.com. Registration is a simple process and free of charge. Please contact pressoffice@rhs.org.uk to gain access.

Opening times and ticket prices may vary by event. Full details can be found at www.rhs.org.uk
RHS members enjoy free entry to RHS Gardens and discounted entry to RHS Flower Shows.

About RHS Gardens
The RHS has four gardens across the UK:
RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex CS3 8ET
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 1QB
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262